A Room in California

Lau­rence Goldstein
  • Review
By – July 30, 2012
Cal­i­for­nia is asso­ci­at­ed in the minds of most Amer­i­cans with the world of Hol­ly­wood. A native of Los Ange­les, Lau­rence Gold­stein writes poems that begin in the won­der­ful world of imag­i­na­tion but which point­ed­ly ren­der the all-too-real foibles and frail­ties of the human sub­jects involved. Pop­u­lar cul­ture is sym­bol­ized in Thanks for the Mem­o­ry,” a pic­ture of the writer’s mother’s friend­ship with Bob Hope and Bing Cros­by, sym­bol­ic of lost youth” which the moth­er missed because of the writer’s birth. In Isaac and Mae” we read about the Nazis’ deeds, remem­bered by some in a gen­er­a­tion, Nobody knows the sto­ry but me. I’ve lived/​a lie. No, worse. I chose to for­get the truth./Why should it drum and drum at me all day” and oth­ers, I will hon­or your father. I will light the can­dle.” Criswell the prophet fills the writer’s mem­o­ries and present real­i­ty with his dire pre­dic­tions and exot­ic mus­ings on UFOs and stargaz­ers, And who would have pre­dict­ed how many fans are flock­ing to you on their angel wings and danc­ing around your beam­ing spir­it like hap­py geese in a halo of light?” A sec­ond sec­tion focus­es on such well-known celebri­ties as William Car­los Williams, Arthur Miller, the sculp­ture Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pom­peii” of Bul­w­er-Lyt­ton, Fred­er­ic Prokosch, John Barth, and more. Mov­ing into the apoc­a­lyp­tic mode, the poet in Con­sum­ma­tion” iron­i­cal­ly shocks the read­er with a descrip­tion of the ter­ror­ist who hurled myself on your­self… a fer­vent embrace, a destiny…Soul I will not rec­og­nize as mine/​Soul I will not rec­og­nize as mine.” The final sec­tion invokes a medieval poten­tate, Prester John, to help save a world doomed to self-destruc­tion. A dark but vital part of Amer­i­can life draws the read­er to ques­tion, study and con­tem­plate who we are and where we are heading.
Deb­o­rah Schoen­e­man, is a for­mer Eng­lish teacher/​Writing Across the Cur­ricu­lum Cen­ter Coor­di­na­tor at North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my High School and coed­i­tor of Mod­ern Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: A Library of Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism, Vol. VI, pub­lished in 1997.

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